On the eve of January 14th 2008, I got a chance to witness the Makaravilakku, the man made “divine” fire with the tight security of police), The mean time the myth is revealed by the Sabarimala thanthri himself, I think this scribblings won’t be unbelievable.
Ponnambalamedu, where the camphor blocks are lighted is just 4Km away from the Sabarimala temple,(see the map above). it is a really beautiful place with grass-caped hills and shola forests. For the makaravilakku ,at ponnambalamedu there is a permanent concrete platform and a big watch tower .This place is very near to Kochupamba ,where the Power substation is situated, Amidst the dense forest, The settlements are the Substation,Dam ,KSEB inspection bungalows and tribal colony.Sabarimala is powered from this substation situated in kochupamba. Kochupamba is serene beautiful place which is about 35km away from main highway to Sabarimala. Traversing the entire path across thick forest to Kochupamba is unforgettable. you can see the roads(colored red) to both Sabarimala (also see the secret road way directly reaches to Sannidanam -VIP’s come through this way).The most notable thing is the jeep track ends near to Ponnambalamedu. Every year before the makaravilakku, this road is cleaned and cleared for the Travancore Devasom Board and police to reach there. Ponnambalamedu is at an elevation of 1170m above MSL, where as Sabarimala is just 544m. The view of Sannidhanam from Ponnambalamedu is disrupting,just like a city inside the thick,calm forest.
Day before the Makaravilikku, I reached the KSEB IB in kochupamba and stayed there, sharing the same lobby with the high police officials and the TDB officials. Amazingly,even the modern technologies for communication are there,They were still using the AIR transmission for the timing of the “vilakku” . They have been busy with fine tuning the transistor radio for the next day, proceedings. The TATA SUMO of TDB( Click to see the registration details of the vehicle-Some dummies needs proof at every point!!!!) contained a pile of camphor,sacks,kerosene etc was parking in front of the IB.
On the morning January 14, the team consisting of three jeeps of armed police started roaming.But they didn’t enter to the Ponnambalamedu. After lunch,from the KSEB canteen at Kochupamba, the team started at 3:00′clock to Ponnambalamedu.
Usually the locals trek to the hills near to Ponnambalamedu. I also got involved in this team.Half an hour trekking through the forest gave the scene of the mighty hill.( see the picture below).We seated there with a radio. Thanks to AIR for the perfect timings.
This video is shot by me with a digital camera, just a 500m away from the Ponnamabalamedu hill, when the first glow is on.If you watch the video carefully you can see persons moving and smoke is coming up ,when the fire is kept off with wet sacks. keep in mind that Sabarimala is at the valley of this hill. A forest fire is also seen in the frame,but it wasn’t been seen at Sabarimala
It became darker when the second glow is on.
I suppose the next Makaravilakku will be telecasted as live by our television channels directly from Ponnambalamedu,apart from the conventional telecast from Sabarimala and Pamba…:)…Swamyiye Saranamayyappa……